More on Athlete Mental Health (Part II)
More Student-Athletes are Struggling with Depression Than You Know
“Every man has his secret sorrows, which the world knows not, and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow-
Athletes are trained to be tough, physically and emotionally. They teach them to absorb the pain and exertions from training and suck it up after a defeat. Coaches train them to be strong and focused because, truly, these qualities will help them last longer in the industry.
But despite all of this tough facade, you find that athletes have many mental battles they struggle with in silence. Last week’s blog was an overview of athlete mental health, but today let’s look at a special population of athletes, student-athletes. Recent studies point out that student-athletes, those in high school, and those involved in college sports are fighting battles of depression, hoping to find support or help somehow.
“I can’t take it anymore.”
There are many other American youths with their tough shields up yet crying for help on the inside; studies show that about 12% of them have fought depression even before turning 18. In the sports world, a study by the National Athletic Trainer’s Association revealed that student-athletes report higher levels of negative emotional states than non-student-athlete adolescents.
This is not far-fetched; the extreme drive for excellence in performance by student-athletes’ coaches and parents creates a breeding ground for many mental illnesses, including depression.
In a world where achievements and a super-hero mentality do not make up the bulk of athlete training, there would be fewer cases of mental health challenges, coupled with a rise in personal development and character building for these athletes.
Parents and coaches should be the most qualified people to help student-athletes navigate their emotions and mental health issues. Yet you find they are among the driving causes of mental health problems in high school and college athletes.
How therapy helps
The pressure that this combination of guiding figures places on student-athletes is sufficient to create emotional distress for young minds. This is why psychologists and counselors are beginning to provide more supportive services for student-athletes to open up and have a safe space for expressing their emotions.
Through individual therapy sessions student-athletes can learn to better understand their emotions and know how to achieve school-sport-life balance. Athletes can learn specific techniques that have been scientifically shown to improve coping skills.
Most important is learning that there is help accessible when necessary, instead of struggling through depression alone. Please see my website for more resources and information. Or, schedule an appointment with me at your convenience.